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A few more site features added today... Site News
We now have an RSS feed for each and every topic on the site -- you can see them all listed on the new RSS information page. (This page is also linked to "RSS" in the nav bar.) I've included a hint count for each category, so you can get a sense as to the volume in each feed.

At the suggestion of a reader, I also modified the search results display. No major changes (yet), but I added a column to show the number of comments for each hint. Between the Comments and Hits columns, you can get a good sense for how much activity a given hint has generated.

Since this seemed like a pretty good idea, I also added a comments column (Cmnts) to the Headlines page.

-rob.
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What's your favorite email application? Site News
That's the subject of our new poll. I last asked this question in May of 2004, and at that time, Mail had a whopping 70% share, followed by Entourage and Eudora.

It will be interesting to see if Gmail and/or Thunderbird have made up any ground since then...

-rob.
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Further updates on the site upgrade... Site News
In a continuing series, I bring you more news on the site's progression to the new Geeklog engine. Here's what's new, changed, or different today:
  • Thanks to a recommendation from osxpounder, you can now easily see your posting history -- just click on your username in the 'Welcome to macosxhints' line in the header. I've also added some text boxes pointing to that link on the Account Information and Preferences screens. This isn't an ideal solution, but it was the easiest to implement quickly. Longer term, look for the actual link on those two pages, as well as in the header.
  • If you haven't tried it yet, the new comment feed is really working well. The author of the plug-in has made some improvements to it, and you can now see the comment author's name (along with the link to the hint) in the feed. It's a great way to keep current with the new comments added throughout the day.
  • I'm still working on the "backslashes in comments" glitch. The database is now the same as it was pre-upgrade, but the slashes are showing. The next step is a mass-replace, but I'm taking time with that one, as I don't want to break any older code snippets which do need slashes.
  • Important! On the subject of backslashes, the new version of Geeklog doesn't like them! Yes, even in [code] tags (even though backslashes will look right in preview, they will not be written to the database). This is due to a change in the way Geeklog's parser works. That's the bad news. The good news is that a fix is in the works, and we'll have it in place before the weekend's out. For now, if you're submitting code that contains backslashes, or any other special characters, please email me a copy of your code!. Send it to robg at this site's domain, and let me know which submission it goes with. This is really the only way I can be certain that the code is handled correctly. I realize how important this is to everyone (myself included), and we're trying to get it fixed as quickly as possible.
-rob.
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Another site upgrade report... Site News
This problem has been resolved. We may have to do a bit of cleanup on new comments, but everything else should be fine.

We've noticed an issue with "special" characters in stories, comments, and usernames imported from the old database. This is primarily an issue in words with accented e's, e.g. Exposť, as you can see in the title to this hint ... but it will happen to any accented character we had in the system at the time of the upgrade.

For users with accented characters in their username, this means they cannot login at the moment. We're working on the problem, and will probably have to go offline for a bit later today to resolve it. I apologize for the troubles; the export and import routine worked perfectly in testing, but something snuck in (of course) when we did the live update.

On the (minor) good news front, I have fixed the comment layout so that lines are no longer hard wrapped...

-rob.
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Site news -- great new feature and a general update... Site News
Some of you may have noticed that the site was down for the last 10 minutes or so. I hate taking it offline, but I had to do so to correct the issue we had with historical comments. So as of now, here's an updated status report on the site upgrade...

First and foremost, I am pleased to announce that Mac OS X Hints now has ... an official new comments RSS feed! Just point your favorite RSS reader to this URL:

feed://www.macosxhints.com/backend/commentfeed.rss

You'll see the 30 newest comments on the site, with a link to the original article along with the comment's text. This has been near the top of my wish list for a very long time, and now it's here. A big thank you to Michael Jervis of the Geeklog team for creating this feature in literally a few hours. You see, he saw a poor half-hearted attempt I made at the feature, and took it upon himself to build and release a Geeklog plug-in to handle the task. Thank you, Michael! This will make it much easier for all of us to keep up with the comments on the hints published here. It's still a bit tricky to find the comment itself when visiting the site, but I'm working on at least a partial solution for that as well.

In the less exciting but still interesting department, here's what else has changed recently:
  1. Historical comments (those posted before Friday, May 26th at about 2:00pm Pacific time) should now be correct. We had issues with quotes and backslashes, which can really mess up code snippets, amongst other things. If you're reading an old comment, and you notice something that looks wrong, please use the Contact Us link to let me know about it--there are a lot of old comments, in a lot of different formats, and while I think we found the proper fixes for all of them, that may not be the case.
  2. I've tweaked the Search preferences to match the old site's behavior. This is just one of those niggling little details that, despite my best attempts to think of everything, I overlooked. Geeklog's default search (what you get by using the search box) is a "phrase" search -- search on finder folder, and you'll only get matches with that exact phrase. Not very useful here, obviously. I have switched it around so the default search is now an "and" search -- the same search will find any hint containing the words finder and folder. I also switched the order of the pop-up in the Advanced search page, so the default is an "and" search as well.
  3. I've cleaned up some layout issues with the Classic theme, most notably on the Pick of the Week pages.
  4. I brought back the hint counter in the menu bar area. Sure, not too important, but it was another of those details I overlooked.
That's about it for now; thanks for the feedback thus far, and overall, I'd have to say it's been a relatively smooth transition.

-rob.
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Blue is back! Site News
As promised, I've been working on themes, and now, the first one is ready. For all those who preferred the old "blue and orange" look, it's (more or less) back, as seen in the small screenshot at right. While this isn't quite identical to the old standard theme, it's fairly close, differing only in font selections and the design of the sideboxes.

To change your default theme, login to your account and go to the Preferences screen. Set the Theme pop-up to Classic, then click Save Information. Only registered users can change their theme (but registration is free and easy if you prefer the blue look).

I'm not sure this theme is 100% done -- I threw it together pretty quickly in order to get it online fast. So if you notice something wrong on a given page, please send me an email (do not comment here about it; the odds are low that I'll see everything that way). There's a Contact Us link at the bottom of each page; click that and send me a message, including which page had the problem, and a description of what seems wrong.

More themes are coming in the near future...

-rob.
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We're back! Site News
[May 28] Comments warning: There is an issue with the existing comments we imported to the new site. Specifically, those that were posted in plain text, but included code snippets with quotes or double-quotes. Those snippets of code have issues with backslashes -- they may not have some they require, and they may have some they don't require! If the code snippet is in an orange-ish monospace font, however, it should be fine as is. We have a plan to fix the problem, but won't be able to do so until Monday, May 29th.

[May 27] Safari users tip: If you use Safari, and you're having trouble seeing the site properly, please delete Safari's cookies. You may even have to remove your Keychain entry for your macosxhints account to login properly. This seems to be a weird glitch that's only affecting some Safari users.

[May 27] RSS Update: The RSS issue has been resolved. The official new URL for the RSS is (though the old address will work as well):

http://www.macosxhints.com/backend/osxhints.rss

After a complex, but well-planned (and thoroughly backed up!) upgrade process, macosxhints is back online. As noted in the pre-upgrade notice, we presently have but one theme, though I plan to add others in the relatively near future. We're still powered by Geeklog, but instead of running a, um, er, somewhat older version, we're now up on the latest release. From a reader's perspective, this means you have access to a few new or updated features. The following are available to everyone, regardless of whether you login here or not:
  • We now have many more topics, devoted to the hints we get here about hardware. We're not changing our focus, but if a hint is clearly hardware-related, it will be nice to have a place to correctly place those hints.
  • Search is different. I'm not necessarily going to say it's better or worse than it was, but it is different. You will see matches grouped by hints, comments, and links, which is nice. Unfortunately, it's still not a full-text search with boolean support, so the same "how to search" info is provided on the search page to help you out. We know search is important, and that it's far from ideal, and we'll be working on making it better.
  • The Links section is much nicer, with paging of results making it easier to browse.
  • Headline hints are now more nicely formatted.
  • I know some (many?) will disagree, but I think the new layout is cleaner and easier to read than the old.
  • Trackbacks will now show up in the footer to hints.
  • A built-in spam filter should (hopefully) catch those rare comment spams we see on occasion.
For those who have registered for free accounts and browse as a logged-in user, the following features are new or improved:
  • A simpler account management process. Instead of three screens (Profile, Comment, and Display), there are now just two -- Display (which includes the comment prefs) and Profile.
  • Upload an image or "avatar" (128x128, 64KB or less) which will appear on their profile page.
  • Control whether they'll allow email from users, email from admin, or appear on a who's online list. Note that your email address is *never* visible to others (and wasn't under the old system, either).
  • A Location field, to let others know where you are, if you wish.
I'm sure I'm missing a few things, but those are most of the visible changes. Behind the scenes, lots of changes should make the site easier for us to maintain/upgrade, more secure, and add more features in the future...

Thanks for bearing with us through the downtime -- and please, if you find something that's broken, or looks completely wrong, or whatever, let us know. Use the Contact Us link at the bottom of each page, and just make sure you include the URL and/or a description of what you found.

-rob.
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Hints site upgrade happening Friday afternoon... Site News
Macosxhints will be going offline Friday, May 26th, around 1PM Pacific time. We are (finally) upgrading to the latest Geeklog release. This is a somewhat large project, with some complex data migration to be done, and we want to make sure we do it right. As such, the downtime may be substantial -- anywhere from two to five hours -- or possibly more if things go more slowly than we expect.

When we return, you'll be seeing a new look for the site. I'd love to tell you that it's a new pro theme designed by one of the world's best designers...but I'm really not a good liar :). For some of you, it will look similar to what you already see here, as I modified an existing theme from the current site. For others, though, especially those who don't login, the new look will be notably different. As with many things I do on the site, I expect some will like it, many won't care, and a very vocal group will thoroughly hate it :). I have plans to bring other themes (to match the ones we currently have) online shortly, but as of the re-launch, we'll have just one look available. I just haven't had the time to work on the other themes yet.

After the new system is online, if you find something broken, please let us know (there's a contact link in the footer of every page). There are some new features, which I'll summarize in a post once we get back online, but mostly, things will work as they have before...

-rob.
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Are you an iTunes Music Store addict? Site News
Given that the iTunes Music Store recently celebrated its third anniversary (April 28, 2003 launch date), I've posted a new poll to find out just how often we all purchase from the store. I realize that the store isn't available in all countries, and that it hasn't been available anywhere other than the USA for the full three years, but I still thought it might be interesting to see just how much music we've all been buying.

If you say "I don't know; I deleted the Apple-provided Purchased Song playlist," well, you can use this hint to create a new one. It's just a Smart Playlist that will show all your purchase activity (based on matching Protected AAC songs). That's why I left "I don't know" off the poll as a valid response.

And if you happen to be off the top of the charts, and feel like sharing, feel free to add your actual unit purchase quantity in the comments. I admit to a strange curiosity about who may be the "most addicted purchaser" amongst the community. I'm pretty sure it's not me, with 454 songs in three years (which is about seven CDs a year, which is roughly how often I used to buy actual CDs).

-rob.
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More hints coming a bit later today... Site News
OK, so it's my first day back, and we're still having a bit of a challenge figuring out the "two kids" schedule ... so there are but two hints here this morning. There will be more a bit later today, though, so check back in after 11:00am Pacific time or so.

I think we've got things figured out moving forward, so Tuesday and beyond should be back to the normal morning update schedule.

And thanks again to Kirk for even making it possible for me to be gone for two weeks straight. It was great getting to spend time with the new one without having to worry about the daily hints update. It's nice to be back to the daily routine, though -- even if that routine is still far from routine! :).

-rob.
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